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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 16th Jul 2014 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach – drink-led managed pubs like-for-likes up 2.4% in otherwise flat June: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow just 0.4% in June. While the World Cup helped push up trade in drink-led pubs, branded restaurants reported flat sales and pub restaurants saw a sales dip compared to the same month last year, according to latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. “The World Cup may have helped drink sales in pubs, but it did little for the eating out market,” said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. “Overall, drink-led managed pubs saw like-for-like sales up 2.4% on June last year, with drink sales ahead 2.8% and food essentially flat. The biggest boost came in the week of England’s first match, when like-for-likes in drink-led pubs and bars were up 10.9%. The following week, like-for-likes were ahead 3.7%,” added Martin. “But after England’s exit the effect was lost and the market fell back more into balance. During those first two World Cup weeks, restaurant chains had seen sales down between 3% and 5%. Across the month as a whole, branded restaurants like-for-likes were flat, with pub restaurants down on last June. The truth is that while big set-piece events like the World Cup may boost part of the market, the overall effect on eating and drinking out is much more muted,” said Martin. On a regional basis, June trading was strongest in London, with pubs in the capital the star performers. Like-for-like sales across the capital were up 1.6%, while outside the M25 like-for-likes were down 0.3% on last June. Total sales, which include the impact of new openings, were ahead 3.1% across the country as a whole. “Despite the distortion of the World Cup, the 0.4% like-for-like growth for June is still an improvement on the 0.2% growth seen in May, and that result means that he 28 companies now contributing to the Tracker have collectively seen positive like-for-like sales for each of the past 15 months. Growth may not be exceptional but it is steady,” added Martin. “Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales were up 2.7% for the 12 months to the end of June, with total sales running 5.4% ahead.”

Industry News:

Punch promises pub support for VAT Tax Equality Day: Punch Taverns has promised its support for the nationwide VAT Tax Equality Day on 24 September, including free marketing kits for Punch pubs. The national day of action, part of the industry initiative to see the level of VAT in the hospitality sector cut from 20% to 5% is led by the VAT Club, headed by veteran VAT campaigner Jacques Borel. Punch Taverns’ Caroline Jackson said: “We wanted to get involved and support the VAT Tax Equality Day as it is an important initiative within the industry. The company will be promoting the scheme to its pubs and providing marketing support for any interested pubs wishing to take part in Tax Equality Day.” This includes a free marketing kit, with posters, badges and other point of sale materials, to highlight the benefits to the customer of a VAT reduction to 5%. Last year, more than 300 Punch pubs took part. Jacques Borel said: “I am delighted that Punch Taverns is participating in Tax Equality Day. It will be the perfect way for its licensees to reinforce the message to pub goers that lower VAT in the hospitality industry will deliver lower prices and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Just Eat buys collection-only app Orogo: Just Eat, the UK online takeaway service, has acquired the London-based online takeaway service Orogo to boost its offering to consumers. Orogo is a collection-only app, which enables customers to order and pay for their lunch in advance and collect at their convenience, from some of central London’s most popular restaurants without the need to queue. Once the food is ordered online, the customer can then collect it from the outlet within minutes. The company was set up by Christoph Lippuner and Mikael Landau, who wanted to provide a solution to busy lunch-time queues in London. Lippuner and Landau will continue to run the business independently, with additional investment from Just Eat to help drive growth. Graham Corfield, Just Eat’s UK managing director said: “This deal enhances our collection offering, and Orogo will enable us to provide an even better service to our takeaway restaurant partners and customers, further cementing our clear leadership position in the UK. We have been hugely impressed by Christoph and Mikael’s forward-thinking, innovative approach, and they will bring great value to the Just Eat group. This move is part of our wider strategy to innovate and drive further significant growth into the takeaway restaurant sector.”

WHO report – regulating fast-food industry the only way to cut obesity: The government’s plan to fight obesity through voluntary deals with fast food chains is founded on “pure illusion” and will lead to ever-worsening ill health in Britain, a leading expert claimed yesterday. In a wide-ranging report for the World Health Organisation, Professor Roberto de Vogli of the University of California and other leading academics said all the evidence pointed to government regulation of the fast-food industry as the only way to slow down or reverse the world’s escalating obesity epidemic.

Luke Johnson – admitting failure is part of the zeitgeist: Sector investor Luke Johnson has claimed that there is a new willingness for entrepreneurs to talk about their failures. In his Financial Times column, he argues that he is unconvinced that making a fetish of failure is a good thing. He said: “It appears that it is now cool to celebrate business failure. Such a positive approach was not always the way. Once upon a time insolvency was a taboo subject, and founders who suffered a financial collapse never talked about it. But the mood towards flops has changed. Is it a good idea to cast away the shame and almost relish failure? I am torn on the subject. I sense that my most popular speeches are the ones where I talk about my failures. The first time I spoke at length in public about a series of poor investments, it was a cathartic experience for me. Perhaps audiences are sick of hearing entrepreneurs boasting about their business victories – instead, they like to hear about the setbacks, problems and disappointments. It is partly that the British in particular prefer self-deprecation to conceit; but also because a willingness to acknowledge errors is now part of the zeitgeist. But I am not convinced that making a fetish of failure is a good thing. No one sets out to be a failure. Winning, not losing, victory not defeat – anything else is an unwelcome outcome, surely.”

Network Rail boosts rental income with help from restaurants: Network Rail, which runs 19 of the UK’s biggest railway stations, has increased its retail space by more than 20% to 600,000 sq ft in two years. By 2019 it plans to have 850,000sq ft, not counting the 450,000sq ft Grand Central shopping centre and John Lewis department store being tacked on to New Street station in Birmingham and due to open next year. As well as the complete reconstruction in Birmingham, there are big projects to redevelop Edinburgh Waverley, London Bridge (where retail space will increase sevenfold to a space the size of Wembley Stadium) and Euston station in London, which will get several new shops and a balcony area filled with restaurants by next year. Network Rail collected £700m in retail income over the five years from 2009 to 2014, but as a result of all these developments that is forecast to rise to £1.2bn in the next five years.

‘Breastaurant’ sector brand adds brewpub: Twin Peaks, the 22-outlet chain that is part of the so-called “Breastaurant” segment in the American market which includes Tilted Kilt and Hooters, has added an on-site brewery at its sites in Irving, Texas. Owner Front Burner Restaurants said that its first in-house brewpub was a cost-effective source for its best-selling product, draught beer. The casual dining chain is known for its all-female waiting staff and -2 centigrade tap beers. Chief executive Randy De Wit told Nation’s Restaurant News: “Most people who open a craft brewery or microbrewery have to go out and find customers. Well, we’re our own customer. Our goal by the end of this calendar year is to get the beer into every single Twin Peaks in the state of Texas. [The company now has 21 Twin Peaks outlets in the state.] Once we do that, turning on our beer in every tap we have in the state, we’ll be at capacity for the brewery.”

FarmDrop seeks to raise £400,000 on Crowdcube: FarmDrop, the system that connects food producers with their customers, is looking to raise £400,000 on the crowd-funding website Crowdcube in return for 17% of its equity. It had raised £258,000 from 63 investors by lunchtime yesterday with 56 days left. The pitch says: “FarmDrop’s mission is to create and grow sustainable local food systems. We’re doing that with an online platform that allows independent farmers and food producers to sell direct to their communities in a way that makes it more profitable for them and a better deal for customers. Think of us as the Etsy of the food world. We believe FarmDrop answers an increasing demand for fresher, healthier local food at lower prices, while providing producers with a quantum leap forward in profitability. FarmDrop have five FarmDrops trading right now. There are a further 12 FarmDrops under construction and we have now received over 400 more applications to start FarmDrops. Many more will start building soon. More than 300 independent food producers have signed up to supply FarmDrops in their local areas.”

Company News:

Chilango tempts invests investors with a free burrito: Chilango has e-mailed registered investors on the Crowdcube crowd-funding website with the offer of a free burrito. The company has raised £1.25m from 382 investors toward opening sites through a bond, paying 8% interest, and the offer to invest has 24 days left to run. An e-mail from Crowdcube to its 80,162 registered investors on behalf of Chilango said: “We noticed that you’ve taken a look at the Chilango Burrito Bond but you’re yet to invest. Whilst you’re chewing it over (sorry), Chilango would like to offer you a delicious meal worth up to £7.99 at any of their seven restaurants in London. Simply create your account and enter the code below using their online ordering system by Thursday 7 August and then pick your meal up from your nearest restaurant. The voucher code is worth £7.99 and can be used once.”

Sticks ’n’ Sushi lines up two more London openings: The Danish-owned, Japanese restaurant group, Sticks ’n’ Sushi is to add to its Wimbledon and Covent Garden restaurants with a third opening, in Greenwich, and a site in the Crossrail development at Canary Wharf. The company is taking the listed building on the corner of Nelson Road and King William Walk in the heart of Greenwich. A spokesman for landlord Greenwich Hospital stated: “We are delighted to welcome Sticks ’n’ Sushi to the area where we are sure they will be a very well received addition to the community.” Sticks ’n’ Sushi currently operates ten restaurants in Copenhagen. Greenwich, which will have 90 covers, is due to open January 2015. The brand has also confirmed it will be opening in Canary Wharf at the Crossrail development, due to open May 2015.

Wetherspoon submits plans to convert iconic Edinburgh music venue, completes on Teignmouth site: JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans to convert the Edinburgh live music venue The Picture House, formerly owned by Mama, into a pub. There was public outcry at the loss of the venue and a petition was established to try to maintain the venue as a music destination when it was revealed Wetherspoon had bought the site before Christmas. To date, the petition has received more than 13,000 signatures. However, the plans have now been submitted for the Wetherspoon takeover including a change of use, with the idea to turn the Lothian Road venue into a “superpub”. Plans include replacing the stage with a large bar and using the balcony as a separate bar area, replacing the current downstairs bar with a kitchen. Meanwhile, the company is to invest £1.6m in Teignmouth, Devon to open a new premises, converting a former clothing store. The firm has taken on the Tiggs clothing store in Station Road and a pre-planning application to Teignbridge Council has been submitted. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are pleased to have been completed on the former Tiggs unit site. We have submitted a pre-planning application to the council and are awaiting comments on the scheme.”

Cornish boutique hotel goes on the market for £1.95m: The property agent Christie + Co is marketing the Old Quay House, Fowey for £1.95m. The waterfront hotel overlooks the Fowey estuary and has 11 guest bedrooms, and includes the on-site Q Restaurant. The Old Quay House has annual sales of circa £750,000 and net profits of circa £220,000. The current owners have operated the hotel since 2002. They undertook a complete refurbishment, extension and rebuilding of the site to achieve their aim to be one of the leading boutique hotels in Cornwall, and are now ready to take early retirement. Matthew Smith, director of Christie + Co, said: “The Old Quay House enjoys a tremendous reputation. It is one of the few boutique hotels in Cornwall to draw praise from all the major guidebooks year on year. Currently operated under management, the business represents a great opportunity for an investor or a ‘hands on’ operator to acquire a successful, robust and profitable business which continues to witness year-on-year growth.”

Jamie Oliver to open second Barbecoa: Jamie Oliver is to open a second Barbecoa barbecue restaurant, located this time in West End. The first site is located in One New Change, St Paul’s Cathedral. Oliver has now signed up for a new 300-seat restaurant in St James’s with landlord The Crown Estate. The restaurant, at 194–196 Piccadilly, will open next year – agent Davis Coffer Lyons acted for The Crown. Simon Blagden, chief executive of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, said: “Barbecoa has been incredibly successful in bringing the best British produce and authentic fire-based cooking together to produce a fantastic dining experience.”

Bath rugby stars plan coffee shop expansion but close Bath site: Bath rugby stars Matt Steven and Lee Mears are planning to expand their cafe Jika Jika to Bristol and London. However, the company closed its George Street cafe in Bath this week. Jika Jika first opened four years ago, before the partners opened a second cafe at Brunel Square in Bath in January 2013. Director Simon Jenkins said the company had decided not to renew the lease on the George Street premises. He said while Jika Jika was opening a new cafe in Clifton, Bristol, and in London, the chain remained committed to Bath: “We do have intentions to open another site in the city but as yet we have not found the right one. George Street was very popular but the lease expired and we decided not to renew it.”

Bronx Bar and Cue opens in Teignmouth: A new concept, the Bronx Bar and Cue, is opening in Teignmouth, Devon today. The Bronx Bar is taking inspiration from American food and will house a barbecue bar, cocktail bar and sell craft beers. Owner Patrick Fogerty and his wife Dee opened their first bar in London five-and-a-half years ago and hope to enjoy the same success in the seaside town, where Patrick was born and bred. Mike Jackman of the Teignmouth Traders Association, said: “Bringing new establishments to the town can only bring in new people. We welcome the new traders. The Bronx will bring something unique to Teignmouth. We’ve lost quite a few bars over the years, we’ve had 33 in years gone by and are now down to 20.”

Restaurant Group in Shrewsbury double opening this week: The Restaurant Group will open two sites on Shrewsbury’s Battlefield business park this week – a Frankie & Bennys opened on Saturday and a Chiquito is due to open on Friday. Already open on the sit are a KFC and the Featherbed Pub, which is a Marston’s new-build carvery.

McDonald’s win best pension auto-enrolment award: McDonald’s has won the large employer award for Best Pensions Auto-enrolment Strategy at the Employee Benefits Awards 2014. The award recognises employers with 5,000 employees or more that maximised the opportunities offered by the need to comply with auto-enrolment legislation. The judges were impressed by the fact that McDonald’s Restaurants’ well-thought-out strategy and clear agenda for auto-enrolment included its franchisees, which went beyond what was required by the legislation. The company also carried out an extensive communications campaign designed to demystify and clearly explain pensions to engage with employees that had little or no previous experience of pensions. The results were impressive, with a low percentage of employees opting out in the first year. The judges said they were “in awe of what McDonald’s did for its workforce profile. It really went the extra mile.”

Tampopo signs to stay in Manchester Corn Exchange: The South East Asian restaurant chain Tampopo has signed a 20-year deal to remain in the Corn Exchange in Manchester when it reopens in summer 2015. The Corn Exchange’s owner, Aviva Investors, announced a scheme in May to transform the building into a dining destination, with 13 restaurants and a boutique hotel, as part of a £30m redevelopment project. In June, the developer Queensberry Real Estate said that ten restaurants units were under offer. Tampopo, which has its headquarters in Manchester, has been in the Corn Exchange since 2008. The chain has two more restaurants in Manchester and sites in London, Bristol and Reading. While the renovation of the Corn Exchange is under way, Tampopo will operate from a pop-up restaurant in Exchange Square. Mills & Reeve advised Tampopo on the lease for the 3,700 sq ft unit.

Former Premier League football player opens patisserie with eye to roll-out: A former Premier League football player, Mamady Sidibe, has opened a French patisserie in Hanley, Stoke on Trent with his wife Benita, and plans opening more outlets if the first one is a success. Sidibe, who was born in Mali, moved to France with his family when he was two, came to Britain in 2002 and was signed to Stoke City from 2005 until last year, when he retired from football. He said of the patisserie project: “It has been something that we have talked about for a long time now, because my wife has always enjoyed cooking and baking, but normally she has just done it for myself and for our friends – including some of the French players who have been at Stoke. It is something totally different to football so we were a little bit worried about doing this initially because people in Stoke don’t really know too much about French patisseries. Hopefully, this project takes off for us and we can look at building one or two more around the area in the future. That would be fantastic. For now though, we just hope that everybody enjoys what we have on offer.” The patisserie is in the lower mall of the Intu-owned Potteries Shopping Centre in Stoke.

Searcys to quit Birmingham Rep: The London restaurant operator Searcys is ending its contract with the Birmingham Repertory Company from the end of next month: The Rep said in a statement: “By mutual agreement, Searcys, who currently operate the Centenary Bar and Brasserie and associated hospitality catering service, will withdraw from their contract with the theatre from 31 August 2014 due to a change in their business priorities.” The theatre, which re-opened last year after a major refurbishment when the adjacent Library of Birmingham opened, said it would continue to provide its customers with a substantial snack and bar service during the autumn and winter while a total review of its retail catering service will be undertaken. However, the theatre will not operate a restaurant service over the period. Pre-theatre diners who have booked meals during the autumn programme will be given a full refund and all current customers of The Rep will be advised in due course of the change in service. Searcys also runs the Balcony restaurant at Selfridges in the Bullring in Birmingham, the St Pancras Grand Brasserie in London and a private members’ club at the top of the Gherkin, the skyscraper in St Mary Axe, in the City of London.

Fuller’s buys Covent Garden site for circa £7m: Fuller’s has bought The Harp in Covent Garden for circa £7m. The site was bought by its licensee Bridget Walsh from Punch Taverns a few years ago. The venue, on the market through agent AG&G, had attracted the interest of number of established London pub operators. It was named National Pub of the Year by Camra in 2010-2011. Fuller’s bought The Albannach on Trafalgar Square in March this year and has also acquired two riverside sites in Greenwich and Fulham. Outside of London, it bought The Windmill in Portishead and took a 51% stake in six-strong Stable craft cider and pizza business in June for £7.3m.

Topland acquires Hallmark Hotels: Topland has acquired Hallmark Hotels, a luxury four-star hotel portfolio, for circa £75m, taking Topland’s hotel portfolio to 30 hotels across the UK. This transaction supports Topland’s ongoing strategy to build a £1bn hotel business. Hallmark consists of eight luxury four star hotels – 730 rooms, with 600 employees across the UK including Croydon, Manchester and Gloucester. Topland now employs close to 2,000 people in its hotel business. Its hotels include Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel, The Brighton Metropole, The Glasgow Hilton and a portfolio of Thistle Hotels, including five in central London and one in Edinburgh. Topland will add the Hallmark hotels to the platform of the Menzies portfolio acquired in November 2013 and the day-to-day operations will be managed by Bespoke Hotels who have been managing the Menzies portfolio. Topland is one of the UK’s largest private property companies in the UK, and this acquisition follows chief executive Sol Zakay’s stated intention to substantially grow Topland’s hotel holdings. This acquisition brings The Topland Group estate to circa 3,000 hotel bedrooms in the UK.

Cau lines up sixth site for Bristol, first in major city location: The Argentine restaurant brand Cau will open its sixth site in Bristol’s Triangle area on 4 August. It will be the largest UK Cau to date with a capacity of 150 and will be the first to offer breakfast. Dishes on the breakfast menu include steak and eggs, eggs Benedict with an Argentine twist, and the Cau full English breakfast. The design of Cau Bristol will mark a departure from the current aesthetic, in part driven by the architecture and feel of the site. The restaurant will have a more industrial and imposing feel, creative director Patsy Godik said: “The space is inspirational and has allowed us to put in a wonderful centralised kitchen and bar ,which is the focal point. We also played with creating different levels, which resulted in some fun and quirky designs, such as raised booths, and an even more dynamic treatment of the ceiling and its lighting.” Cau has also recently launched a brunch menu that is available at its Kingston upon Thames, Tunbridge Wells and Blackheath branches. Cau Bristol marks the group’s third opening in 2014.

Subway to open ten sites with MRH Retail: Subway has announced that it is set to open ten new stores by the end of the year in partnership with forecourt operator MRH Retail. As part of its ongoing development plan, MRH Retail is looking to open 30 stores at select locations by the end of 2015, with three stores already opened in Scotland and a further seven Subway stores planned in 2014. Subway said there were currently more than 400 Subway stores open or in development in non-traditional locations, such as within convenience stores, forecourt sites, hospitals, universities or transport hubs. Mike Charest, assistant regional director for Subway Europe, said: “Forecourts are an ideal site for our non-traditional stores. Due to their simple operations, minimal space and equipment requirements, our stores are well suited to these sorts of sites. The Subway brand is keen to develop such locations in partnership with successful companies just like MRH Retail.”

Northcote wins Square Meal award for best restaurant outside of London: Northcote, the Lancashire hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant headed by chef-patron Nigel Haworth, has won the 2014 BMW Square Meal Award for Best UK Restaurant. Northcote was voted number one in Square Meal’s annual out-of-London survey, with a total of 2,400 restaurants considered by 1,400 readers, bloggers and a nationwide team of reviewers. Northcote was the only property to have made the list in Lancashire and one of only two restaurants in the north-west. The operation has recently completed a year-long refurbishment, which saw the addition of four new rooms, an onsite cookery school, new-look restaurant and staff wing. Co-proprietor Craig Bancroft said: “Over the past 12 months our investors have had the faith to back our vision and now the public is backing the result. Everyone involved, from the ground up, deserves to be hugely proud and we sincerely thank those involved at Square Meal and BMW. This will spur us on to continue delivering great food, wine and hospitality.”

Linthwaite Leisure partners Punch Taverns in Batley pub investment: Linthwaite Leisure has partnered Punch Taverns to re-open The Fox and Hounds in Batley, West Yorkshire after a £340,000 investment. The pub now has eight screens, showing live sports. Punch Taverns’ local partnership development manager, Dave Watson, said: “We’re delighted to invest in sites such as this and see how the pub can become the hub of the community. The Fox and Hounds has always done well and we have built on this by creating a brighter and more appealing interior for customers to enjoy. The food is also doing very well.”

Tragus hit 50th apprentice mark: Tragus Group, the operator of restaurant brands including Cafe Rouge, Strada and Bella Italia, has announced a 50th employee has joined its new apprenticeship programme. The organisation has been working in partnership with the hospitality apprenticeship provider Apprentice 1st to train a number of kitchen and front-of-house staff on level 2 apprenticeship programmes. While Tragus has employed apprentices in the past, this is the first time that the organisation has implemented a company-wide apprenticeship programme approach. It forms part of Tragus’s wider commitment to professionalising the workforce, which also includes working with skills and workforce development charity, People 1st, to recruit unemployed people using pre-employment programmes.

Douglas Jack – we expect Domino’s to report strong trading in its first half: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Domino’s UK shares with a price target of 710p per share. He said he anticipated “strong H1 trading” and said: “For Domino’s H1 results, due on 29 July, we are forecasting PBT to be up 10% to £24.5m. We expect trading to have remained strong in UK, such that upgrade risk for the UK should be starting to outweigh downgrade risk in Europe in Q1, UK like-for-like sales rose 10.8% (versus 6.6% comp), almost all of which was volume. In Q2 and Q3, the company should benefit from slightly easier comps, of 6.1% and 4.0%, respectively, as well as the FIFA World Cup. The company is yet to report like-for-like sales for Q2, for which rainfall was 11% higher than in Q2 2013, bringing another favourable trend for Domino’s. Underlying like-for-like sales have been driven by improving product range, expanding late-night trade, increased marketing/advertising scale and successful bundle sales. As an indicator of the expected additional volume during the World Cup, the company recruited 1,300 extra delivery drivers (according to the trade press), which represents an 8.5% uplift. We believe our 2014E PBT forecasts are conservative (£52.2m; consensus £53.8m). For the UK, we assume 3% like-for-like sales growth and 50bps EBIT margin reduction over the full year. Our German forecasts assume losses decline by £0.5m, largely due to lower central costs. Losses in Switzerland are forecast to be flat. The 2015E P/E is 16x if one excludes Europe, a potentially valuable long-term option that could be stopped if necessary. We believe the discount to the 23x historical average P/E is too large, given the strength of the UK growth model and balance sheet (almost completely free of debt, capex and net rent).”

Former event manger to re-open Newcastle nightclub venue: A former event manager, Rachel Frame, is to re-open Julie’s nightclub in Newcastle upon Tyne as a new venue called Tiger Hornsby. Frame previously worked in events management in London. She said the name was inspired by one of the people she met while working in the capital who also went to Julie’s. “We got talking at an event I’d organised at a club in Mayfair. When she found out I was from Newcastle she told me about Julie’s and how she used to party there. She must have been in her 60s or 70s, really glamorous and still rocking the London scene. When I asked her name she said what I thought was ‘Tiger Hornsby’, and the name stuck.”

Bill’s to take La Tasca site in Cheltenham: Bill’s is to take over a current La Tasca site in Cheltenham. The tapas chain has traded the site for eight years after converting a former Yorkshire Bank site. An application has been submitted to Cheltenham Council by Bill’s Restaurants. Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of La Tasca Restaurants, said: “We have taken the decision to sell our site in Cheltenham as we felt the location and layout of the building does not now fit with new La Tasca’s requirements. Our nearest restaurants can now be found in Bath, Newbury and Oxford. We hope to welcome the residents of Cheltenham to a La Tasca restaurant again soon when they’re visiting friends and family across the country or when we find a more suitable location within the town.” Originally, La Tasca had agreed terms for a 25-year lease at a rent of £115,000 per annum in the first four years. After that, it rose to £120,000 per annum in the fifth year. A Bill’s spokesman said: “Bill’s restaurants is continuing its exciting series of new openings with a stunning restaurant in Cheltenham.”

Peyton & Byrne opens fourth bakery cafe: The cafe and foodservice company Peyton & Byrne is to open its fourth bakery cafe, located this time in Greenwich, South East London. The new venue, which opened yesterday (15 July), is near the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College. It will have its own bread oven and bake soda bread, sourdough and seven-seed loaves on-site. The menu will also feature seasonal salads, sandwiches and cakes, including muffins, Chelsea buns and sausage rolls. The cafe will offer the brand’s own range of preserves, jams, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, tea and roasted coffee.

Pizza Hut in the US to launch pizza cookie: Pizza Hut in the United States is to roll out an almost-pizza-sized chocolate-chip cookie, eight inches in diameter and cut into eight slices. While the pizza giant officially has christened the new product, produced in partnership with Hershey, the Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie, internally it has been the pizza cookie. “Millennials tell us it’s what they want,” said Carrie Walsh, chief marketing officer at Pizza Hut. “They like to cap off a great pizza with a great dessert.”

Agent – imperative to keep One Leicester Street sale under wraps: The owners of One Leicester Street, just off Leicester Square, have announced that the London town house hotel has been sold to the team behind the diner-style Honky Tonk restaurants in Clapham and Chelsea. Early in 2014, the Unlisted Collection called in agent Davis Coffer Lyons to look at the available options. West End restaurant specialist Josh Leon, advising the Unlisted Collection, said: “There was a lot of value in the assets as is so often the case in Central London, and it was clear a sale at a very good price was possible. But to achieve a good result it was imperative to keep it virtually under wraps, also to protect the business. Restaurants and hotels are incredibly sensitive to any rumours. I was therefore asked to rely on my network rather than go to the market.” The staff currently in employment at One Leicester Street, will be offered the opportunity to remain with the company at one of its other properties, and no redundancies will be made.

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